SAN FRANCISCO, April 14, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Being raised in the San Francisco area, Amy Micheletti has always been a Giant's fan. On May 21, Amy and her whole family will be decked out from head to toe in orange and black Giant's gear. They will be doing so to walk through the night in honor of her brother Jake Miller, who died by suicide in 2008 when he was only 20 years old.
Jake loved the Giants.
On May 21, 2016, Amy and her family will be participating in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk. Participants from across the country will come to San Francisco to walk more than 16 miles from sunset until sunrise to raise money and awareness for suicide prevention. Money raised from the Overnight Walk will support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which funds research, creates educational programs, advocates for public policy, and offers much-needed support for those affected by suicide.
"This is my second Overnight Walk," said Amy Micheletti, Campbell, California resident and mother of three. "Last year, I participated in the Dallas Overnight Walk, and two weeks before that event I had run a half marathon, so I was not worried about the distance of the walk. I was worried about the pressure to talk to other participants. But within the first couple of miles, those feelings of nervousness were gone and I realized that I was surrounded by other people who had experienced a similar loss. I was comforted by this."
Amy's story is just one of the thousands that make up the Overnight. Laguna Beach residents Elliot Quint and Janice Hayden lost their daughter Rebecca Quint, to suicide in 2010. Rebecca was a student at Northwestern University at the time. She had a dry sense of humor, was into playing video games like World of Warcraft, and was incredibly responsible –to the point of being a perfectionist. But they also knew that Rebecca was incredibly shy and anxious, and had experienced social anxiety. During high school, they had taken her weekly to see a psychiatrist. Despite these weekly sessions, the psychiatrist had missed her depression.
"When we attended our first Overnight Walk, I found it was wonderful to be there with all the other people who had suffered a loss just like we had. I remember seeing the field of luminaries from a distance, and then slowly walking through them, looking at all of them. I was crying, but it was such a powerful feeling. It felt so affirming," said Janice Hayden, who runs a small online business importing folk art.
Her husband Elliott Quint further explains: "Participating and preparing for this arduous walk was really helpful for us. It gave us a goal, and a way to do something positive in Rebecca's memory. Even the training we've done has been helpful for both of us, for both our mental and physical health."
How are Janice and Elliot doing now?
"It's not something one gets over. You get used to it, though," said Mr. Quint, 55 and now retired. "You live in a different way. Like losing an arm or a leg, you just get used to living a new normal."
For survivors of suicide loss like Amy, Elliot and Janice, the Overnight Walks are a way to feel supported by a community of people who have gone through a similar experience. For those with a connection to the cause, the Overnight Walks provide a sense of camaraderie and a welcoming environment.
Each walker raises a minimum of $1000 to participate in the Overnight Walks. Since its inception in 2002, nearly 30,000 people have participated in an Overnight Walk, 5,000 people have volunteered, and over $35 million has been raised to support the cause. This year's San Francisco Overnight Walk will begin at Fort Mason Park at Great Meadow and go throughout the City.
There is also an Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk planned for New York on June 4-5, 2016. Registration for both walk events is still open to the public.
To register for The Overnight, please visit theovernight.org.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that's smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
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SOURCE American Foundation for Suicide Prevention